Texas Tech would love to continue its growth under Kliff Kingsbury by making a run at a Big 12 title in the fall. But it won't happen without some key developments during the offseason, starting with securing replacements for running back DeAndre Washington and wide receiver Jakeem Grant, two of the Big 12's best in 2015.
Here’s what we learned about Texas Tech during spring football.
What we learned about the offense: The Red Raiders should be just fine at the skill positions as they strive to replace Washington and Grant. A pair of juniors, running back Justin Stockton and receiver Cameron Batson, seem ready to step right into the lineup with solid depth behind them. Reginald Davis' continued emergence could also be a key on the outside. And, above all, Patrick Mahomes returns to trigger the offense and put a bandage over any missteps with his ad-libbing excellence.
What we learned about the defense: Defensive coordinator David Gibbs will be counting on youth in the defensive interior. Defensive tackle Breiden Fehoko is young and experienced after starting for the bulk of his true freshman season but redshirt freshman noseguard Broderick Washington will need to grow up quickly. The Red Raiders have an anchor to build around with talented safety Jah’Shawn Johnson returning but the recent dismissal of leading returning tackler Dakota Allen could hurt.
Breakout player: Three names rise above the rest with Washington, guard Madison Akamnonu and right tackle Terence Steele sitting atop the depth chart as redshirt freshmen. The Red Raiders needed some youth to step up in the trenches and this trio accepted the challenge. Washington, Akamnonu and Steele will need to continue to develop but they could be terrific building blocks for the future.
Key storyline: Allen’s dismissal puts a circle around Johnathan Picone’s name. The early enrollee linebacker ended the spring as Allen’s backup but now may be called upon to start as a true freshman. It’s not going to be the only defining factor on a defense that allowed 3.02 points per drive a year ago but it is important to have someone replace Allen’s production.